It's nearing the start of winter and feeling the need for a change of scene we decided to do something fabulous and head off for a brief stay in the country. I packed the car with enough jackets, thermals and long socks to last us about three weeks instead of three days, and we were not disappointed. The first night a wild wind sprang up and the temperatures plummeted. Perched in our friend's house at the top of a hill, surrounded by wildly waving gums and temporary blackouts, we felt thankful for wood fires, in awe of the elements, grateful for feather quilts, and only a little bit scared that we might be blown away and never seen again.
The thing I love most about taking my city born and bred children out of the city, is that they get to experience life in a way that is less ordered and more free. Rather than spending hours inside, in the car and standing next to me while arguing with each other, they disappear outside for hours (and hours) - running up and down hills, getting caught in barbed wire, spotting wallabies, and poking dead rabbits with sticks. Frankly I'm at a point where if they're not standing next to me and arguing, I'm happy.
Outside and out of sight for hours, they appear sporadically for replenishment of drinks and biscuits. They arrive breathless, laughing and with flushed cheeks, telling stories of self-made huts, wild animals and birds, games played and dramas enacted. Then before you can say, "how did that rabbit die again?" they're racing off for more adventures.
I do my best to turn off my stressed out/over-protective/citified neurotic self and just let them at it, and I think I succeeded.
Yes, that's my nine year old riding on a small (but real) motorbike. I'd only just gotten over the shock of him going on his first school camp, but riding a bike with an engine?? Anyway, I'm not sure my forced smile fooled anyone but I could see how happy he was to be doing it all on his own. He tried to pretend he didn't care when he fell off, and I tried to pretend I didn't panic when he did. He was among friends and well looked after. He got back on the bike and rode it again, and I was really proud of him.
My girls were super keen to ride on a horse (not by themselves, which was probably a relief for the horse as well as for me).
I think he may have secretly liked them just a bit!
Staying with one of my oldest friends was (to shamelessly plagiarise someone else's term) 'chicken soup for the soul'. We don't see each other regularly but when we do our conversations are long and often hilarious. It is heartwarming to reconnect with someone who "gets you", who knows you from the past but still likes you in the present. Having and loving a friend that the passage of time, the busyness of family life, and the distance of a city and country existence can't separate is a real blessing.